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By: Samson Zimba

From Northern Rhodesia Police Force, the new Zambia Police Force was born and tasked to perform both military and civil functions.

At this time, Law enforcement and public order maintenance was critical in the country and there was need for something to be done in terms of policing.

The intensifying of mining activities at Nkana mines in Kitwe and other towns of the Copper belt demanded huge cheap labour.

However, the conditions of service for African miners were poor. This led to nationalist movement demand for black majority rule, resulting in numerous strikes and riots.

In this regard, the colonial administration responded by creating a counter insurgent wing of the police force called the MOBILE UNIT (MU) which was effected in 1949.

The unit was based at Bwana Mukubwa in Ndola with officers drawn from all districts before it started producing its own officers.

In the year 1952, the unit started producing its own officers trained by white instructors from Britain.

Kamfinsa which is situated along Kitwe-Ndola road and positioned about 14 kilometres outside Kitwe City became the new Mobile Unit base. Kamfinsa was chosen based on its central position of the mostly disturbed areas of the Copperbelt.

Since inception, the unit was being commanded by white expatriate officers from Britain until 1967 when the first black Commanding Officer took over.

From just a platoon of officers, Mobile Unit grew into a fully- fledged police support unit.

This expansion brought about the creation of detachment platoons which created operations’ base in various parts of the country.

Platoons were being deployed to other identified key areas where the mobile unit services were required as well as to beef up the general duties with man power.

These detachment platoons used to rotate after 3 years, from one catchment area to the other.


 

However, the detachment platoon rotations came to an end because it was expensive for the government in making these movements. According to the records with Kamfinsa Mobile Unit, it is indicated that the last platoon rotations were done in 1983.

Norman Archibald, 76 years old, was one of the first colonial platoon commanders as the rank of Inspector. He was a B2 platoon commander from 1960 to 1962.

Mr Archibaid who was on a tour of his former work places, recently visited Mobile Unit as part of his Golden jubilee commemoration.

Archibald narrated that he was employed from United Kingdom, (UK), and came for training at Lilayi Police Training College where he underwent training for 3 months as an assistant Inspector, (a direct entrant, now called cadets).

After training, he was first deployment in Lusaka before being promoted to Inspector and picked up the raw of platoon commander at Mobile Unit.

Mr Archibald became MU B2 platoon commander at the age of 22 in 1960 before he left Zambia Police Force in 1963 at the age of 25, to go and start up a career of business of which he has succeeded in opening a number of stable and sound companies in Australia.

Mr Archibald, who was in the country for Zambia's golden jubilee celebrations, spoke with passion that working under MU taught him how to work with people.

The colonial MU platoon structures comprised of an Inspector, as a platoon commander, an assistant inspector as the deputy platoon commander, 2 Sergeants, a senior constable and 40 constables.

During operations, a platoon commander would carry a pistol, a machine gun and some gas grenades. His deputy commander would carry a pistol and gas grenades. Meanwhile, the two sergeants, a head constable and the rest of the constables, would carry the shields and long buttons.

Mobile unit being the first unit to be created in the police force for crowd control and public order maintenance duties, it is as well tasked to provide security to sensitive areas of the country, government installations as well as VIPs.

From just a platoon, the division grew with the creation of other sections according to the structure of a division.

As a Unit, the training wing was the first section to be created followed by companies and platoons. Later on, as the manpower grew due to the training school which was introduced, other sections became fully operational.


 

A company is led by a company commander who is a superior police officer and a platoon is headed

by a platoon commander who is a subordinate police officer (a chief inspector and at times an inspector).

Kamfinsa Mobile Unit has five companies of which each company is having five platoons.The platoons

rotate from one operational area to the other. These rotations are done every three months and sometimes

depend on the operation order and other administrative logistics.

 

After a shift from Police Force to Police Service, the unit started recruiting women into the training

school after the introduction of human rights and gender equality programmes. Mobile Unit trains

officers to feed all the stations and divisions which do not have training institutions. The unit retains some

officers which it uses to reinforce officers e other divisions where need may arise.Until now, the units’ major

responsibility is restoring order in distressed situation hence its name School of Public Order Maintenance

(SPOM).

 

The unit responds to situations such as riots, demonstrations and any other situation that may place the

security of the country at stake. Officers found at SPOM are well trained to quell such situations

with utmost professionalism.

 

The Unit is currently commanded by a Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police.

 

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